By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – French authorities say they have freed a man after wrongly identifying him as an ex-member of Saudi Arabia’s royal guard who allegedly participated in murdering Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
French law enforcement sources had identified the man in detention as Khaled Aedh Alotaibi, the same name as a former member of the Saudi Royal Guard.
The Saudi Embassy in Paris had said late on Tuesday the arrested person “has nothing to do with the case in question.”
Alotaibi, 33, was detained at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on Tuesday while he was about to board a flight to Riyadh, French law enforcement sources explained.
The man was detained on a 2019 arrest warrant issued by Turkey, the country where Khashoggi was killed, according to French police, authorities said.
Saudi officials suggested the arrest was a case of mistaken identity and that those involved in the murder had been convicted in Saudi Arabia.
Eventually, French authorities agreed. With his release, an international search continues to find the real suspect who is believed to be one of 26 Saudis wanted by Turkey over the killing.
Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the government in Riyadh, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.
Saudi Arabia said the former Washington Post newspaper journalist had been killed in a “rogue operation” by a team of agents sent to persuade him to return to the kingdom.
But Turkish officials said the agents acted on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government.
The murder caused a global uproar and damaged the image of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He has denied any role in the murder.
In his columns for The Washington Post, Khashoggi already warned of the dangers faced by critics in the kingdom. He noted an increasingly hostile atmosphere against intellectuals and others who supported reform.
Christians and other non-Muslims are among others who can also face intense persecution by Saudi authorities, Worthy News documented.
Khashoggi’s murder, in which his killers are alleged to have called him a “sacrificial lamb,” stunned the world. The outrage was also partly because it occurred within the walls of the Saudi consulate while his fiancee waited for him outside.
Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi who lived in self-exile in the United States, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, to file paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancée.
Soon after, a waiting Saudi “hit squad” strangled Khashoggi and dismembered his body, which has never been recovered, according to U.S. and Turkish officials
The international anger over the killing reverberates, with Western intelligence agencies accusing the Saudi crown prince of authorizing the murder.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the order to murder Khashoggi came from “the highest levels” of the Saudi government.
The case contributed to tensions between Ankara and Riyadh.
Tuesday’s detention came only days after French President Emmanuel Macron defended his decision to include Saudi Arabia in a tour of Gulf states. He said the visit did not mean he had “forgotten” about the Khashoggi case.
Last year, a Saudi court jailed eight people for between seven and 20 years over the killing, but none of the defendants was named.
However, rights campaigners said the masterminds of the murder remained free.
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